Baneberry (Actaea spicata)


Baneberry is a plant in the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) which is now quite rare in the U.K.

It was known to be in the Arnside and Silverdale area in the 19th Century, and was recorded by Charles Bromley Webb for the ADNHS at the beginning of the 21st Century in two locations within what is now the A.O.N.B. However we have had no confirmed records since then.

The plant is difficult to spot unless it is flowering (and not that easy then!). It is likely to be growing in woodland or possibly in a grike (deep crevice) in limestone pavement. The leaves are characteristic in their way but not really noticeable among normal woodland vegetation.  The flowers (most likely in June but possibly much later if in a grike) are pale cream to white with usually five petals, but these rapidly drop off to leave the cottony looking stamens, eventually producing green berries which then turn black. The flowers resemble those of Meadow Rue (Thalictrum flavum) but are less showy, and Baneberry is a shorter plant with quite different leaves. Later in the year Baneberry might be seen with brownish leaves and a spike of black berries.

If you see anything like this do let us know (with a grid reference if possible, or a description of how to find it).

    Meadow Rue (Thalictrum flavum) for comparison